Rahul Dravid, Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jayawardene have been nominated in four categories for the annual ICC awards. The three Test captains from India, Australia and Sri Lanka dominated the nominations, including the Sir Garfield Sobers Award for the cricketer of the year.
Andrew Flintoff and Shane Warne, the men-of-the-series in the Ashes, and Muttiah Muralitharan were the other prominent players in the running for the top award, which included a surprise nominee in Monty Panesar, the England spinner. Dravid, Ponting and Jayawardene were also in contention for three other awards - Test Player of the Year, Captain of the Year and one-day Player of the Year.
The awards, covering performances from August 1 2005 to August 8 2006 will be presented on October 23 in Mumbai during the Champions Trophy. The nominations were compiled by five former Test stars led by Sunil Gavaskar of India, who is also the chairman of ICC's Cricket Committee.
The other selectors were Allan Donald of South Africa, Ian Healy of Australia, Arjuna Ranatunga of Sri Lanka and Waqar Younis of Pakistan. The final selection will be voted by a 56-member ICC academy comprising the 10 Test captains, 18 members of the umpires and match referees panel and 28 legends of the game and members of the media.
Dravid will be in with a strong chance of the captain's award as since he took over in October of last year, India have enjoyed Test and one-day wins at home over Sri Lanka, one-day wins over Pakistan and England and a historic Test series win in the West Indies, the first since 1970-71.
Dravid had won the inaugural award for the Test Player of the Year and the Player of the Year two years ago. However, the likes of Jayawardene - who has led Sri Lanka outstandingly in England - and Ricky Ponting who guided Australia to 11 wins in 12 Tests since the Ashes will offer a stiff challenge.
The Captain of the Year and Women's Cricketer of the Year awards have been introduced this year. "Cricket is not just about runs, wickets and catches," said Malcolm Speed, ICC chief executive, at the announcement in Mumbai. "It is also about tactics and the way a side conducts itself and the captain plays a pivotal role in those aspects of the game.
"The Captain of the Year Award is designed to recognise the leader's contribution to the game and to the spirit of cricket we all value so highly. The Award for Women's Cricketer of the Year is a welcome and very appropriate addition to this year's ceremony.
It will serve to showcase the very best women's cricketers, something that is vital as the ICC seeks to ensure the continued growth of the game at all levels."
Cricketer of the Year
Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Michael Hussey, Andrew Flintoff, Mohammed Yousuf, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene, Younis Khan, Monty Panesar, Brett Lee, Makhaya Ntini, Adam Gilchrist.
Test Player of the Year
Hussey, Ponting, Yousuf, Flintoff, Warne, Muralitharan, Dravid, Jayawardene, Younis, Hayden, Ntini, Kumar Sangakarra, Kevin Pietersen
One-day Player of the Year
Hussey, Ponting, Flintoff, Jayawardene, Sangakkara, Dravid, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pietersen, Yousuf, Lee, Herschelle Gibbs, Shahid Afridi, Inzamam-ul Haq, Adam Gilchrist, Yuvraj Singh, Shane Bond, Irfan Pathan,
Emerging Player of the Year
Panesar, Alastair Cook, Denesh Ramdin, Malinga Bandara, Mohammed Asif, Upul Tharanga, Ian Bell, Shahriar Nafees.
Captain of the Year
Dravid, Ponting, Jayawardene, Michael Vaughan
Umpire of the Year
Simon Taufel, Aleem Dar, Rudi Koertzen.
Women's Cricketer of the Year
Karen Rolton, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Anjum Chopra, Neetu David, Claire Taylor, Katherine Brunt, Emily Drumm